I am Elliott Burge – a junior at Wabash College from Valparaiso studying economics – and, fortunately, a 2015 summer intern at Connecta Corporation in Indianapolis. I would not have been so lucky nor had this fulfilling experience without some help from a few organizations and certain individuals. Firstly, I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for funding my internship and many like it and for making all of these wonderful opportunities a reality. Additionally, I would like to thank Wabash College – specifically the Center for Innovation, Business & Entrepreneurship led by Roland Morin and William Oprisko, Director of Student Employment and Activities. All of their time and efforts put forth smoothly set up and ran the Lilly internship programs available to me and many Wabash men. Lastly, my supervisors Alan Pyle and Derek Turner – both Wabash alumni – deserve recognition for inviting me to work with them and for challenging me in a way that allowed me to grow and learn in a workplace full of hard-working and inviting individuals. Each person, group, and organization played a vital role in my summer internship, and their collective involvement proved crucial in the support and guidance I received during my time at Connecta Corp. The memories and value to my education will surely be cherished and not forgotten.
During my eight-week internship program, I faced not only many tasks and obstacles but also completed many goals and projects. The variety of roles and responsibilities given to me most likely exceeded those of the majority of other Lilly interns. I thoroughly enjoyed the frequent changes in pace and setting while on the job. From picking up and dropping off orders, to entering many different forms of data and organizing inventory, to orchestrating a company-wide cookout and utilizing my previous cooking skills, I could not imagine a more well-rounded and diverse job experience. Sometimes I would sit all day working with Excel, writing emails, or making phone calls; and other days I would do more physical work, such as moving inventory, mowing and trimming the lawn, or inspecting products as the machines produced them. I enjoyed having the opportunity to work with everyone at Connecta in one way or another and being able to apply myself on both sides of the business. Throughout my internship, I met a lot of great people who welcomed me and taught me so much. I very much appreciate all the lessons and knowledge with which these past eight weeks have rewarded me.
The When & Where
My internship took place at Connecta Corporation, which sits at the corner of Boulevard Place and 34th Street just north of downtown Indianapolis, IN. My time here spanned from May 8th to July 10th. I originally lived in Valparaiso, which lies in the northwest part of Indiana – as some would call “The Region.” Moving from a city with a little over 30,000 people to one with over 800,000 a few hours away, I had a lot of adjustments to make. Luckily I have friends who grew up and live in Indy, but the challenges of learning new streets and an entirely different city altogether still confronted me. I first noticed how much just driving around differed, most notably the traffic density and size. Despite that, I still greatly enjoyed the city of Indianapolis and all the wonderful things it offers. My experiences in and around the city indirectly related back my internship, and none of them would have occurred without it. Once again, I thank everyone who played a role in making this all possible. I learned a lot even outside of work about people, living on my own, and life in general, and that made all of my time here that much more worthwhile.
Some may wonder why I chose to work with Connecta, why I wanted to live in Indianapolis, or why I searched for an internship in the first place. I decided to look for an internship because of how competitive getting a desirable post-college job (or any job really) is nowadays. An internship provides very valuable experiences and awareness that separate prospective employees from ones with just their degree. I would rather be the best employee than the smartest. People have told me it is better to know how to use what you know as opposed to just knowing more than the person next to you. A quality college education and a good internship help individuals achieve not one but both of those. I felt that I needed to find an internship because of how much they offer. Secondly, Indianapolis seemed like the perfect location for me. I wanted to explore somewhere new and to excite away from home. Chicago would have been interesting, but that meant I would stay at home and have to commute by car, train, or bus 45 minutes to an hour away. I knew I did not want either of those, so I chose Indianapolis. Not only could I choose somewhere near my workplace to live, but I could also spend every day with some of my friends and have a summer filled with all new places and faces away from my comfort zone. South Bend – although a bit smaller – also seemed like a viable option with similar qualities and enough distance from Valpo. This brings me to my final question and answer: as I applied to several internships both in Indianapolis and South Bend, I began waiting patiently – a bit too anxiously as the end of the school year approached – and then I started getting replies to my applications. I received three or four emails in about three weeks’ time stating how I was not the ideal person these businesses wanted. Then almost out of nowhere I had an interview over FaceTime with Alan and Derek from Connecta. It went surprisingly well, especially since we scheduled it in the morning during my spring break. Before I knew it, I eventually walked out of my second interview at Connecta with a summer internship. Connecta was also the only place that interviewed me, so that made the decision a bit easier. My decision to take on a Lilly internship with Connecta Corp in Indianapolis instead of something else turned out wonderfully, and I could not be happier with the results – direct or indirect. I never thought this past summer would have played out the way it did, but there is not much I would change. In addition to everyone who had an impact and played an active role, I am thankful for everything this internship brought to my life and all of the lasting memories that came along with it. I can only imagine what else the future holds.